I know some of you are reading the title and wondering what it means. There's a few who just can't wait to tap dance all over my head with pointed comments. I'll be the first to agree that it could very well apply to my mental state. There ain't no cure for that, folks! This post has nothing to do with any of my scrambled brain cells. It might be a manifestation of said brain cells, but the post isn't about making them any better. So you just put those Blue Suede Shoes back in the closet with your Velvet Elvis. This has to do with photography.
Katie and I recently went to a funeral. It's always sad to see the folks who figured so prominently in your younger years pass away. Such was the case with Buck and Babe. I have a childhood buddy. We've gone different directions in the ensuing decades. He's a bird nut while I'm a bike nut. He leads ocean cruises to spot rare birds on weekends. I teach motorcycle safety classes on weekends.
Some guy's crouched patiently in the bushes with binoculars. Just in front of him is a tiny flock of some nearly extinct bird rarely seen in civilization. The birds are getting a little closer. Just a bit more and he'll get some rare photos that very few humans have ever snapped. That would be my buddy Greg.
Just at the critical moment some asshole on a motorcycle goes roaring by on the roadway. The bike doesn't have loud pipes. It does make noise, however. Especially when he beeps the horn at the pervert in the bushes with the binoculars. And what's this bright yellow and black creature rapidly bearing down on us? So ask the birds. You know birds. Off they fly, never to be seen by humans again in this lifetime. Greg shakes his fist at the jerk who violated his sacred moment. That jerk would be me. Yee freakin' haw!
Despite all that, nothing can erase our long history. We've raised kids together. We're still married to the same women we started with. We still make these women shake their heads when we talk about our teenage exploits. Greg and his wife live close again. Once upon a time they took up residence in Oxnard, California. It's not far out of L.A. The first time we went to see them was the first time I'd ever eaten shark. Purchased from a grocery store meat counter, no less! It would have been more fun to eat it in a restaurant, though. Never one to resist a bad joke, I wanted to see some little girl talking exitedly to her mother.
"Mommy, there's a man eating shark over there!"
Dang it. Meandered off onto a back road, again didn't I? Or maybe rode into the ditch. Told you there was no cure for my mental state. Buck and Babe were Greg's grandparents. Buck passed away around 11 years ago. Babe recently passed away at the age of 97. Describing this couple would take up a few posts on its own. Buck was an Intrepid Motorcyclist. I'd see the two of them all over town on a Honda CB175 like this.
Theirs had a big box of some sort on the back. Come Winter, the bike would be strapped onto the back bumper of their pickup, snuggled up against the camper. Buck and Babe were Snow Birds. They'd spend months down in Arizona picking up rocks and collectibles from the desert. Buck was a pretty fair camp fire guitar picker. Babe was always to be found on the back of the bike. I don't know so much how she felt about riding. She just felt that her place was with Buck. If he was on the bike, then she'd be right behind him. That little bike seemed to work just fine for them.
I saw Greg at the funeral, of course. We were comparing our photographic skills. Actually, Greg was laughing at me for not having any. I told him of my recent purchase of a 55-200mm lense to go with the Nikon D40 SLR camera. Greg says he regularly uses a 300mm but that's as big as he can focus without a tripod. I told Greg that my lense had some sort of anti vibration thing-a-ma-bob in it but my pictures still tended to blur a bit.
Next thing I know, Greg's tap dancing on my head. He tells me that maybe it's not the camera or lense. Actually, he says if the pictures are blurry with the 200mm lense that has a built-in stabilizer then it's definitely me. "What is it you say?", he asks. "Buying a 1000cc sport bike doesn't automatically make you a good rider?"
Man, that smarts.
Fast forward a few weeks. Lingering in the back of my mind was a post by John McClane. He showed a picture of something called a Gorilla Pod. I didn't take time to find the exact post to link to here. Sorry, John. I always admire how clean and crisp some of the photos in other blogs are. Steve Williams and Gail Hatch have exceptionally clean photos. I like the photos on most of the other blogs. No insult is meant because I only mentioned these two. I do have to say I like Conchscooter's photos quite a bit. Mostly for the human element he captures. That, and the fact that he gets away with lurking about at 2 AM snapping covert pictures.
Conch says he likes to use a small pocket camera. No muss, no fuss, just snap and go. AA battery powered and all. I can just see him in the wee dawn hours. Photo subject spotted. Camera in front pants pocket. The photo subject looks over at Conch.
Conch says, "Hang on a minute while I whip something out!" How does he get away with that? I'd get arrested for sure. With my luck, he'd be the dispatcher that got the call. He's make sure that about fifty cops swarmed on me. All on scooters. With no helmets. One of the scooters would have a milk crate on the back of it.
"Ok, Buddy! In the crate. We're taking you in!"
This is in no way, shape or form, any sort of comment on Key West's finest. I've taken a few jabs at Conch over on his blog and I can see him taking the chance to get back at me. That's one of the reasons I like him!
Anyway, I figure Steve and Gail have two things I don't. Great skills in making and developing their photos, and a tripod. Hey, I can do that, too! Yes, I could march right out and buy a tripod. It just hadn't come up on the top of the list, yet. Then fate stepped in.
Katie and I were wandering around Joe's. It's a sporting goods store. I took a Camelbak apart in December. Come March, and I forgot how to exactly put it back together. Okay, so maybe you shouldn't have put away your dancing shoes, just yet. We didn't find one just like it in Joe's but I finally figured it out. These new CamelBaks are more complicated than they look. Seriously. Before leaving the store, I decided to check the ammunition stock. Turning the corner, I had an unexpected encounter. Sort of like meeting an old flame. Something that's been on your mind but you never acted on it. Suddenly you're face to face. Such was the meeting with the rack that held several Gorilla Pods.
Except, unlike an old flame, I could actually fondle this one around Katie. Well, I could have done the same with an old flame, but I would have gotten my ass torched. Get it? Old flame, ass torched? Fine, be that way. Anyway, I took a Gorilla Pod home and hooked it to the camera. If you think I don't have any photography skills, then answer me this. Pretty good job getting the Nikon to take a self portrait with its new Gorilla Pod, isn't it? You don't believe that, do you? Then I can tell you've been looking at my photos for a long time.
Do you want to know what's really ironic? I used a point and shoot digital camera to take a picture of the Nikon with the tripod. Held in my hands. Freestyle. The tripod is supposed to make my photos a lot more clear and sharp. My freehand photo of the camera and tripod is one of the clearest and sharpest photos I've taken in forever. AAAAARRRGGGHHH!
I haven't taken a picture using the tripod, yet, but the anticipation is fun. One of these days I actually will snap a photo using the tripod. As soon as I can find the shutter release. I told you I can't resist a bad joke. Didn't I warn you?
I can see some advantages to this kind of tripod over one with rigid legs. I just hope I can keep it from getting wrapped around my neck!
Stay tuned. The photos here are bound to get better. Or not.
Miles and smiles,